Judiciary Anointed for 2024 Ockhams

An unusually perspicacious dozen have been named to the Judiciary for the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Meanwhile, good old Ockham itself has an important announcement.

Respected academics, curators, reading and arts advocates, award-winning writers, journalists and reviewers – in short, a line-up of literary Jonah Lomus – are among the 12 luminaries selected to judge the 2024 Royal Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

The $65,000 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction will be judged by reading advocate and former bookseller Juliet Blyth (convenor); writer, reviewer and literary festival curator Kiran Dass; and fiction writer Anthony Lapwood (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Whakaue, Pākehā). They will be joined in deciding the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four by an international judge.

Judging the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry will be poet, critic, and editor Erik Kennedy (convenor); poet and performance writer Tru Paraha (Ngāti Hineāmaru, Te Kahu o Torongare ki Waiomio, Ngāti Te Tarawa); and author, editor and university lecturer Dougal McNeill.

The General Non-Fiction Award will be judged by respected journalist and academic Jim Tully ONZM (convenor), writer, editor, broadcaster and literary festival curator Kerry Sunderland; and academic, researcher and author Rebecca Kiddle (Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi).

The Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction will be judged by well-known former radio broadcaster and book reviewer Lynn Freeman (convenor); arts advocate and former festival director Marianne Hargreaves; and artist, curator and writer Ane Tonga.

New Zealand Book Awards Trust Te Ohu Tiaki i Te Rau Hiringa chair Nicola Legat says judging Aotearoa’s best books demands debate and consideration by informed and avid readers with diversities of experience.

“The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is delighted with the range and calibre of the 12 appointed judges for the 2024 Awards,” she says.  

N. Legat’s assessment is spot-on as underscored through careful analysis of their fulsome bios.

Important Announcement from the Ockham Central Committee

Since 2015 we have sponsored the New Zealand Book Awards, a partnership that has become synonymous with Ockham’s greater ambition to foster a more thoughtful and inquisitive Aotearoa.

“For the past eight years we’ve been joyfully entangled with the Book Awards whānau with whom we share our name,” says Ockham Residential co-founder Mark Todd. “Today I’m delighted to announce that we’re renewing our commitment for five more years.”

“Critical thought and enquiry are at the heart of the Ockham ethos. We are pleased that the Ockhams have become a beloved part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural tapestry, offering the delicate stitch of prestige, coupled with the pragmatic thread of financial aid.”

Book Awards Boudicca N. Legat echoes the sentiment.

“We are beyond thrilled that Ockham Residential – our cornerstone funder – has re-pledged its commitment. We have enjoyed a very warm relationship with Ockham for eight years now and their ongoing belief in the value of the awards is so affirming.”

The judges will advise their category longlists on 1 February 2024 and the 2024 shortlist of 16 books will be announced on 6 March. The finalists and winners will be celebrated on 15 May 2024 at an awards event held as part of the Auckland Writers Festival.